- Identities of all four children who died after falling into a lake have now emerged
- The victims include two brothers and their cousin, as well as Jack Johnson, ten
- Finlay Butler, eight, Sam Butler, six, and cousin Thomas Stewart, 11, sadly died
- Sam clung to life in intensive care for three days before he finally lost his battle
Families have paid tribute to their ‘beautiful boys’ who died after going to feed the ducks on Solihull frozen lake as they are named brothers and cousins.
Finlay Butler, eight, his brother Sam Butler, six, and their cousin Thomas Stewart, 11, are thought to have gone to feed ducks at the Babbs Mill Lake on Sunday afternoon when ice gave way and they plunged into the freezing water.
The fourth victim was ten-year-old Jack Johnson who also fell into the lake at the Kingshurst beauty spot after rushing to try to help the others.
The boys’ parents said: ‘As a family we are devastated at the loss of our beautiful boys Tom, Fin and Sam in such tragic circumstances.
‘We would like to thank the emergency services for all they did in rescuing the boys and to the community for their support, it has been overwhelming.
‘We would like to pass on our condolences to Jack’s family at this very sad time, and ask for privacy from the media to begin to grieve.’
Finlay, Thomas and Jack all died on Sunday but Sam clung to life in intensive care in hospital for three days before he finally lost his battle and died yesterday. All four are understood to have suffered cardiac arrest.
Finlay and Sam’s grieving parents are Daniel Butler and Gemma Haran. The brothers were pictured with their father and a pet dog by a river two years ago.
Thomas was a cousin of the brothers by his mother Rebecca who is their father Daniel’s sister. Her partner and Thomas’s father is Richard Stewart. All live locally.
Thomas’ older brother paid tribute to him and his cousin ahead of the news that Sam had died.
He wrote: ‘Thomas was such a lively little soul, he had a big heart for such a young kid and he was so beautiful. He loved being outside playing with his mates.
‘I love you Tom, big bro will take care of the family and I will see you soon. Make sure you keep practising on warzone and get a win, will you?
‘Can’t forget about my dinosaur man Fin, he loved dinosaurs so much and always showing me new things he built on Minecraft and all the new stuff he learnt on it. Gonna miss you little man.’
Hero passers-by — including brave Jack who had rushed to help after hearing screams — tried to pull the boys out of the lake but the trio, and then Jack too, were overwhelmed by the icy water.
Police, fire-fighters and paramedics then battled to bring the youngsters back to life.
A family friend told MailOnline: ‘The boys had gone to the park with their cousin Thomas to feed the ducks.
‘They went out on the ice and then one fell through the ice and others went to help and fell in.
‘Finlay and Thomas — as well as this poor boy Jack — died on Sunday. And then Sam passed away yesterday. His mum Gemma is heartbroken. Everyone is. It’s just so tragic.’
A member of the three boys’ wider family, Josh Butler, thanked well-wishers in the Kingshurst community for their support following the tragic accident.
Extensive underwater searches that were carried out have now concluded.
Superintendent Rich Harris said: ‘This is a tragedy beyond words and a grief that is unimaginable for the families and friends of the boys.
‘The support from the community has been overwhelming, not just for the bereaved families, but also for the emergency services, for which we are extremely grateful.
‘Our officers will remain in the area in the coming days. Please come and speak to us if you need to.’
In a Facebook post written before Sam lost his battle for life Josh said: ‘I don’t even know how to even start this or even put it into words but as we know have lost 3 beautiful children but I’m unfortunately too [sic] inform other family members and friends who may[be] don’t know but that was [sic] our beautiful kids [.] we have lost 2 and 1 is still fighting strong…
‘I really appreciate the love and support from the community [.]
‘We see all your messages and we are grateful but right now we need space and time [.]
‘This is a massive shock to everyone but also a bigger shock to my family..
‘Once again thank you everyone for the love and support and please hug and kiss your loved ones [.]
‘None of us know what is around the corner [.]
‘I LOVE YOU BOYS GONNA MISS U FOREVER AND ALWAYS XXXXXX.’
It’s not believed that Jack knew the other three.
Jack’s aunt said on Facebook that he ‘ran and tried to save’ three other children — including a six-year-old — who had been on the frozen lake when the ice broke.
The shocking incident, just days before Christmas, has shaken the local community to its core.
In a statement released yesterday evening, West Midlands Police confirmed the death of the fourth boy, Sam.
The force said: ‘It is with heartfelt sadness that we have to report this afternoon, the six-year-old in hospital has lost his fight for life. Our deepest sympathies are with the families and friends of those involved in this tragedy.
‘We cannot comprehend the enormity of the pain they must feel and our hearts go out to them.’
It added: ‘Specialist officers remain in contact with the family and we will issue further information as soon as we can. The searches have been completed and the scene of the incident at the lake will be lifted this evening.’
A fundraising page to the ‘Babbs Mill Princes’ who died has raised more than £10,000 within 16 hours of being set up.
Friends set up a Gofundme page to raise funds for the grieving families.
Organiser Sharon Doyle said the boys had fallen through the ice after ‘forgetting the dangers taught by their parents’ before young Jack heroically tried to save them.
She wrote: ‘Our hearts are broken for the four Little Princes.
‘On Sunday, 11th December 2022, a group of children played in a local park near an open lake.
‘Being children and adventurous, they forgot the dangers taught by their parents and risked going onto the icy lake.
‘Four boys fell through the ice and into the lake. The frantic father of one of the lads and a dog walker entered the lake to try and help the boys.
‘No parent expects to lose their children so young, and sadly, no amount of money would ever place them back in our arms, but with our help, we can hopefully ease the worry of the financial costs they will need to meet.
‘This tragedy is heartbreaking, has brought a community together, and has affected people’s hearts worldwide. Condolences go out to all three families and their relatives.’
Over a dozen emergency service vehicles rushed to the nature park after members of the public desperately tried to help the children.
Among those who rushed to the aid of the boys was 13-year-old Oliwia Szewc, who used tree branches to try and pull the them out of the water, but they were too short.
She and her friend later offered up their coats to help bring their temperatures up after they were brought to land, while ‘praying they would be alright.’
On her first thoughts upon arriving to the scene, she told ITV News: ‘I was just trying my best to think of different ways to at least help them or do anything for them to float on the surface of the water so they wouldn’t drown.’
She said she knew she would have to wait for emergency services before a man she believed to be one of the boys’ relatives jumped into the water.
Oliwia added: ‘He jumped into the frozen lake and cut up his legs but couldn’t really do anything because he was putting his own life at risk. He didn’t go any farther because the police held him back.’